For 75 years, the United Service Organizations have served as a bridge between the U.S. military and the American public.
On Fort Hood, the USO has been caring for Soldiers and Families for the past 15 years and will host a 75th Anniversary Kick-Off Celebration at 11:30 a.m. today at the USO Fort Hood Center, Building 1871, at the corner of 50th Street and 761st Tank Battalion Avenue.
“When you look at today’s armed forces, you have a microcosm of society; you have everybody,” said Isabel Hubbard, the Fort Hood USO center director. “Each USO is different – very unique to its community. You have to get to know your people, get to know the community you’re in.”
Started in 1941 by President Franklin Roosevelt, USO centers established the “Home away from home” theme for the GIs. Over the next 75 years, that theme transformed into “Until everyone comes home.” USO centers could be a place for coffee, to meet other people and just take a break from duty.
At its height during World War II, USO entertainers pulled from Hollywood performed close to half a million live camp shows to men and women in uniform across the globe. By 1947, with the war over, the USO`s public support declined and the organization all but disbanded. When the United States entered the Korean War in 1950, the USO regrouped.
Today, the USO strengthens America’s military service members by keeping them connected to Family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation. At hundreds of locations worldwide, the USO is committed to connecting service members and their Families through countless acts of caring, comfort and support.
For deployed Soldiers, the USO can be that brief reminder of home in places that are anything but.
When Sgt. Ray Romero deployed in 2011, his mission took him to a tiny combat outpost in eastern Afghanistan. He said his first USO experience came when his unit arranged for a trip to a larger base to watch the Super Bowl.
“That really was the highlight of the year,” Romero said. “There were only a few of us, but it meant a lot just to take a break and see the game.”
In 2008, Master Sgt. Jason Campbell was deployed to Iraq and living on a small outpost near the Iranian border. While it was common for the USO to travel the country giving performances on larger bases, Campbell said he was surprised when the USO landed for a comedy show.
“There were only about 100 of us,” Campbell recalled. “They just flew in for the day. It was really neat that they would come all the way out there for us – that was pretty awesome.”
Those are the stories that get Hubbard emotional. She said she’s passionate about what the USO means to military members; it’s a feeling shared by 175 volunteers who donate time to the Fort Hood USO.
Anne Cosper has been around Soldiers for decades, so it was no surprise when she volunteered with the USO five years ago. The wife of a retired command sergeant major and the mother to an Army officer, Cosper said she can see her Family in every Soldier that comes through the USO. It is the reason she mans the USO at the flight line; day or night.
“Till everyone comes home,” she said. “I have faith that the USO will be here to welcome them home.”